'Racist' bill delayed in Knesset

Under new law an MK who backs armed resistance against Israel can be expelled.

October 30, 2006 19:40
2 minute read.
'Racist' bill delayed in Knesset

dov hanin hadash. (photo credit: Orly Halpern)

A new bill to revoke membership of anti-Israeli legislators from the Knesset was delayed Monday, due to the intervention of Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. The bill, sponsored by Israel Beitenu MK Esterina Tartman, was scheduled for a vote in the Knesset House Committee Monday - the same day that the Knesset voted in favor of adding Tartman's party to the coalition. Itzik asked Tartman to delay her request to next week, causing many to wonder if it was the first instance of moderation for the Israel Beitenu Party. "It is very unclear why it was delayed, but it seems clear that Itzik didn't want the bill making headlines on the same day as the new coalition," said a Balad Spokesman. "She knew that the bill represented the racist and fascist nature of the new government, but by delaying it she has not hidden the truth... The government has added a party that hopes to eliminate Arabs from the Knesset." A spokesman for Itzik said that she had delayed the issue for scheduling reasons alone, and denied that her intervention had been politically motivated. Under the bill, a majority of 80 Knesset Members could expel an MK who they identified as "advocating armed resistance against Israel, racist incitement, or opposing the existence of Israel as a democracy." Similar to a bill by MK Zevulen Orlev (NU-NRP), Tartman's bill is believed to be aimed at Arab MKs who give critical speeches on Israel. Orlev's bill, which has already passed a first vote in the plenum, differs from Tartman's law in that it refers the issue to the Supreme Court for a final vote. Tartman had asked the committee to fast track the bill so that it would not have to wait the mandatory 45 days before going to a first vote in the plenum. The government has not yet announced how it will vote on the bill, but Labor MKs joined Likud, Balad, Hadash, and Meretz MKs in expressing outrage at what has commonly been called "racist legislature." "This bill is very similar to a bill passed in the 1930s by the Reichstag in Nazi Germany where 95 Communist parliamentarians were expelled," said MK Dov kheinin (Hadash). "This is the type of bill a member of the new government wants to pass." Tartman has defended her bill, stating that it does not aim to discriminate against Arab Lawmakers, but rather punish those who seek to "undermine and destroy the state of Israel." "I had a majority to pass this bill in the committee this morning, but I agreed to delay only because I respect Itzik," said Tartman. "I believe that anti-Zionist lawmakers have been allowed to go too far, and the time has come for us to stand against this type of behavior."

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